Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters

National Disability Inclusion Strategy: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Emer HigginsEmer Higgins (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I wish to pick up on two things said by Ms Gibney and Dr. McDonagh. I also wish to follow up on a point made by my colleague, Senator Mary Seery Kearney. I will then ask a question of Dr. Tamming.

I will start with my question for Dr. Tamming. I am looking for more information about the public attitude survey that the NDA is planning for 2022 and how it will be carried out. I am conscious that we are postponing the census. I am hopeful that this survey can go ahead as planned despite Covid.

One of the interesting points Ms Gibney made was that this should not be the only committee that has people who have disabilities coming before it as a matter of routine. I fully agree with that. Along with some of my colleagues, including Deputy Murnane O'Connor and Senator Seery Kearney, I sit on the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage. After what Senator Higgins and Dr. McDonagh have said, I am happy to recommend that we have people with disability before the housing committee to talk to us about accessible housing, housing adaptation and the independent housing needs for people with disability. The last point has been well explained today.

I fully appreciate the points made by Dr. McDonagh around the need for more people with disability to reach the higher ranks in public life. I am sure the work she is doing is not only breaking down barriers and silos but inspiring people around her and the next generation of people with disability as well. Dr. McDonagh said she does not believe that she has disability advocates in senior roles, but I want to say that she does. She has advocates in this room. Every Deputy and Senator here today is an advocate for people with disabilities. We are all committed to ending the policy stagnation that Dr. McDonagh spoke so passionately about.

In my last job before I became a Deputy I was in charge of the diversity and inclusion strategy for a multinational corporation. One of the best things I was ever involved in was the creation of internships for people with intellectual disability. When those internships became permanent jobs for people, there was nothing more fulfilling. There is incredible work going on in third level education for people with disability. It will open up career opportunities and life paths for people. That is something I want to build on and something I want to help progress through this committee.


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